Sunday, September 30, 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sometimes to get anything done, I have to get very far from the computer. So yesterday I drove to North County Fair mall, about forty five miles away, and sat writing in the almost deserted Nordstrom's cafe. It so wants to be a restaurant, but I just ordered the unlimited coffee refills for a dollar twenty-five and sat in a dark booth next to a window. It was constantly threatening to rain yesterday and there was a cosy gloom outside.

I'm pretty happy with the story I've started--I genuinely think the concept has potential. We'll see if I can take the ball and run with it. I thought about it a lot while I was driving and I spent some time walking around the mall, just thinking about it, too. Yet it wasn't quite what I'd anticipated once I got started--it's far more comedic than I thought it was going to be, but I kind of like that.

What can I say about Second Life? Seems I can remember a time I was fancy as you please, strutting about in an honest to God tuxedo, even, yet now I am, well, an honest soul yet! But--on hard times, yes, hard times. Time was I could walk into a pub and gets me own drink, now it's by only the kindness of Lady Paine that I might get a bit of rum. Gracious Lady Paine! A roof, too, over my head, she gives me--she says something about ghosts or mummies or such like, but I saw nothing of the kind, nothing of the kind at all. Don't know why the lady couldn't stay here. Why, I thinks ol' Lehagvoi'll be back on his feet again any day now, now that I've got a roof and rum . . .

Friday, September 28, 2007

I went to Mitsuwa yesterday and bought a big carton of sake. I also ate at a Japanese restaurant in the same parking lot; I had sushi and green tea, a meal that both made me kind of sleepy and oddly pleased. There was a little Second Life in the evening, the highlight of which was conversation and Nareth demonstrating prowess with her new knife.

I'm only a few hours into to-day and I already feel like I've been shot in the gut. This is almost entirely due to seeing that someone I like, who's a better writer than me, is getting another story published that shall probably be a very good piece of work. Myself and the person in question used to get along pretty well, but now, for various reasons, she kind of thinks I'm scum. It's always kind of a bitter pill to swallow when you like someone who loses interest in you, and it's a bitterer pill when that loss of interest seems to morph into an active dislike. But I can't stop liking her, and I can't stop liking her writing, though I admit there's a puerile reflex in me to hate her.

I've often observed that when two people have a falling out, one of them magically seems to become a complete monster to the other. I've always seen this as sort of a grossly dishonest way of interacting with people, but it's only in recent years that I've come to understand it as a natural defense mechanism; if you respect someone who doesn't respect you, doesn't that mean you must at least lose some respect for yourself? I don't find it logical to hate myself any more or less than I did before things went sour with this person, and yet the reflex is there to hate her or myself. The fact that she's a better writer than me contributes to this, too--there's an Icarus thing here. I had the arrogance to aim for the sun, and I must consequently be burnt that badly. The sun is no less the sun just because it burnt me. It's still the great fire.

Now, some might say there's a fallacy in seeing some people as greater than others. There's a song by The Smiths called "Some Girls are Bigger than Others". I think a lot of people interpret the song as being about variations in physical weight of women, but it's only peripherally about that. There's a line; "As Antony said to Cleopatra, as he opened a crate of ale, 'Oh, I say, some girls are bigger than others.'" Sure, there's an element of subjectivity to it, but Cleopatra was great according to the subjective opinions of a whole lot of people. The most important subjective opinion to me, of course, is my own. Unless you're like Fred Madison in Lost Highway, afraid of video cameras and constantly re-editing your memories, the hazard in liking other people is in meeting the imperfections of yourself.

This is rather a difficult thing when you're unable to turn into another person. Most of us sense there's probably not an afterlife, and we're stuck with our individual bodies and psychologies, and one can only go so far with self-improvement. And there, it's difficult to know exactly what self-improvement can mean and which path could effect it. It's why a lot of people choose to distance themselves from even understanding human evil.

A few years ago, I was at a family party and I was talking to my cousin's friend about a book that was popular at the time (which I've never read), A Child Called "It". It's about a small child abused and kept in a basement by his mother, who held an escalating disregard for him. My cousin's friend said to me she couldn't understand how a mother could treat her child that way, and I said I found it completely understandable. When one finds something difficult to deal with, there's a desire to sterilise it, to dehumanise it, if it's a person. The worse she treats the child, the less, therefore, she can afford to regard it as a human without confronting herself. My cousin's friend seemed very uncomfortable with my explanation and didn't want to talk to me anymore.

Looking at the synopsis on Wikipedia now, I see that there was probably a comparatively small initial incident, like a single drunken hit that the woman could not apologise for without acknowledging the existence of.

Obviously, that's an extreme case, but it's something I remember in the effort to keep myself on guard against self deception. Though I'm not arrogant enough to assume I'm immune to self-deception--I see it running too rampant in my fellow humans. It's why I call myself "Trompe," after all.

Anyway, now that I've brightened everyone's day, I think I'll go do some writing.
I woke up yesterday with this song stuck in my head, even though I don't think I'd listened to it in years;

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Another unproductive day yesterday. This time I can blame it on the unexpected visit from the maids. Though there's also the fact that I'm thinking about what I'm going to do next. I've kind of lost oomph for the project I've been working on all year. Though I do have enough of it for submission, and I'll continue to submit it for the unlikely event that someone will want to publish it, in which case I'll redo the nine pages I lost and continue with the rest of it. But right now, I've thought up two rather large projects I'm thinking I might try to take on simultaneously.

The only useful thing I really did yesterday was to restore some of the software I lost.

I spent more time with Second Life last night, mainly hunting clothes with the aid of Spooky, who managed to procure for me a swell tuxedo. I've only been in the world a few days, and already I have the look of an aristocrat. It sort of reminds me of the beginning of Swing Time, where Fred Astaire's wandering penniless in New York wearing his wedding tux.

At Spooky's recommendation, I visited a land called Svarga, which was an impressive isle of giant mushrooms, oversized ferns, and a smattering of beautiful, vaguely Middle Eastern architecture. A little car took me on a tour of the place, and I was pleasantly reminded of Disneyland.

Later in the evening, after a glass of scotch and some slices of provolone cheese (I know, I'm just asking the headache to come back), I went back into Second Life and saw that Spooky had made a great deal of progress with the Gorey house, having added a nice set of windows and a balcony. I started teleporting to random lands, the most fascinated of which was a large, quiet, labyrinthine white city, its architecture apparently modelled after the Gondorian style as seen in the Lord of the Rings movies. I appeared in the water before its harbour, where a small galley was docked. I climbed onto the white stone and began wandering the streets, finding the place to be more complex than I'd first perceived, and I passed intricate little courtyards and empty shops, glimpsing culs-de-sac and quiet plazas down the various alabaster alleys. The place was deathly quiet and I didn't see a soul except a single cloaked figure walking around a corner across a canal. The whole thing was very dreamlike, especially with the scotch and the fact that it was almost time for me to sleep. I can hardly believe I'm getting to sleep at 2:30am lately.

Well, I suppose it's time I tried to get some things done . . .

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I had a massive headache yesterday that seemed to disable a percentage of my brain at around noon and I wasn't good for much else for the rest of the day. The only useful thing I did was to help my aunt grade some papers (she's a teacher). Otherwise I just tested out this new computer's aptitude for video games.

First I tried out Jedi Academy, which ran beautifully. The frame rate was usually smooth, even when things got harry, as when a massive lightsabre free-for-all was taking place where Palpatine was held prisoner at the beginning of Episode III involving Obi-Wan Kenobi, General Grievous, Anakin Skywalker, Count Dooku, Shaak Ti, Barress Offee, Luminara, and Assaj Ventress. On the maximum graphics settings, lightsabres whirling, sparks flying, laser battles in the distance as starships fought over Coruscant, everything ran so smooth, it was like taking part in a hyper-schizophrenic version of the movie. Maybe it wasn't the best thing for my headache.

Emboldened by this experience, I decided to give Second Life another go. I'd created a character the night before (Lehagvoi Setsuko), but had only managed to clomp clumsily about the tutorial area and feel somewhat discouraged by how ugly my character was. I love the level of customisation Second Life permits for character creation--it's so rare that a game lets you put fat on a character. But, although my computer exceeds the minimum system requirements for Second Life, I wasn't able to alter my character's skin pigment. Or at least, nothing appeared to happen when I moved the sliders. I wasn't even able to alter facial hair, not even the eyebrows, though I did notice that two mysterious lumps of flesh on the side of my face shrank when I pulled the beard slider down to zero. I'm still not sure how I looked to everyone else. I was trying to make a character who looked something like Charles Bronson but I ended up with something that looks more like Lurch. But that was probably more fitting as I pretty much moved like Frankenstein's monster anyway.

So yesterday I managed to contact Caitlin, who sounded as though she was engaged in some very important affair in a distant land modelled after Frank Herbert's Dune. But I was then allowed to teleport, courtesy of Spooky, to New Babbage, which was a great deal more peaceful and sane than the tutorial area and the Korea area where I'd been wandering. Spooky, who was in the process of building a pretty Edward Gorey house, kindly informed me that my skin wasn't orange or any other unintended colour.

I visited the beautiful Paleozoic Museum I'd heard so much about. After viewing a few paintings of archaic renderings of dinosaurs, I wandered upstairs and found several curious portraits of tentacle creatures, both Earthly and otherwise, including a fetching young lady reclining on a beach, a bouquet of tentacles springing from her blue skirts. As I told Caitlin, I couldn't help being reminded of Maniac Mansion.

I spent most of my time watching Spooky build, which was oddly relaxing. Just watching a pretty woman in a voluminous grey gown floating quickly about like a worker bee, commanding brick walls to move and twist. Caitlin visited briefly, mentioning something about a countess who required attendance elsewhere. I demonstrated my ability to bump into walls and utterly lose motor skills while she told me about her suit which recycles her bodily fluids.

Afterwards, I spent more time watching Spooky build before I finally signed off. I came back online much later to find myself still in the Gorey house, which was now dark but now bearing a more complete upper storey and a roof. I enjoyed the feeling of being trapped in a Gorey house for a while before I learned how to open the door. I wandered New Babbage a little while and changed my hairstyle. I love that this whole thing is free.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's hard to satisfy two cats at once. This morning Lucky the Cat decided to eat from his bowl during the time when I normally give the both of them treats, which means Lucky got his treats after Victoria, which made Victoria jealous for being without treats at the precise moment Lucky had treats. Such is life.

Having a computer again means I can finally write about Eastern Promises, the new David Cronenberg film which I saw on Friday. It's a very good movie, though not Cronenberg's best film by far. It's about on par with A History of Violence.

When I first started watching Cronenberg movies, I found something subtly unsettling about his style, but now I was just kind of pleased to be seeing the familiar intercut closeups, usually with the characters' shoulders just above the frame, and the very slight distortion that makes faces seem to puncture the screen, though not so obtrusively as to make one overly conscious of the technique. Although this movie's about the Russian Mafia in London, and not the Philadelphia based Irish Mafia of A History of Violence, Cronenberg and his skilled cinematographer, Peter Suschitzky, use similar soft, warm lighting for the abodes of these gangsters. You can smell the burnished red leather seats and black leather jackets.

Although Naomi Watts is nominally the star and the audience's POV, she's almost invisible. Viggo Mortensen is the character everyone will be thinking about while watching the movie, not just because Mortensen fits so perfectly into what is an unusual role for him. His character, Nikolai, is brutal, but quite cool. You spend a lot of time figuring out what he's about.

Perhaps the weakest aspect of the movie is its framing as a conventional thriller, but a story seeps through about desperate people becoming the prey of a quiet, traditional institution, and the savagery of the human animal. I wish more time had been spent on the young prostitutes, and their odd little society in the private brothels of the Russian Mafia. But perhaps its their lack of voice, like another character's repressed homosexuality, that best creates a sense of the anti-organic institution. This is visually reflected by Cronenberg's unrestrained portrayals of human flesh, as the movie opens with one of the young prostitutes giving birth to a tiny blood-spattered baby, seen in a tight closeup, its fragile limbs and face clasped by medical instruments.

Monday, September 24, 2007

For the first time in days I was able to make coffee and have breakfast at my own pace, but I see I'm out of time again already (I'm spending time with a visiting relative).

I leave you with this new song from Morrissey, which I first heard at the recent concert, and I like it more each time I hear it;

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I have a new computer. And not a moment too soon--just a few days without a computer felt like solitary confinement. The old one's hard drive crashed--the read thing, which, from what I understand is sorta like the needle on a record player, crashed into the hard disk. Tim tells me that's inevitable with this type of hard drive, and it's a wonder it lasted as long as it did.

Now I've got a better computer than the one that died, thinks to Tim who had a bunch of spare parts he was able to put together into a single machine better than my musty, decade old thing. Now I've got 120 gigabytes to work with, as opposed to only about sixty. Gods, I'm lucky. I mean, I was just thinking about all the individual pieces of luck that just happened to add up to getting a computer again with most of my old files;

The fact that my mother got me an 80 gig iPod for Christmas, even though she had no reason to think I might want one (neither had I). The fact that I backed up most of my files onto my iPod when my wall was getting torn out. The fact that Tim was just willing to give me a whole computer. Someone's looking out for me. Oden? Dionysus? Aule? Whoever; thanks.

There were a few things that weren't backed up that I'll definitely miss. Like Microsoft Word. Though I'm sure I can lay hands on a copy of that. I'll really miss my old copy of WinAmp with the user-made Gendo Ikari skin I picked up from gods know where many years ago. And unfortunately, I didn't back up most of my mp3s except as iPod formatted tracks. I wish Apple wasn't so keen on marking territory. Still, I can't really complain considering that iPod saved my artwork and writing (though I lost a lot of pages of my newest comic project, which is more than a little discouraging). I was also able to listen to music by hooking my iPod to my computer speakers. And I can watch movies on it. It really is an indispensable little gadget.

Now I'm really itching to try out a few new things on this computer . . .

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I've been in the mood for some Jameson for a little while now and last night I went to get some, even though a bottle is something like twenty-five dollars. But next to the Jameson was some scotch called Speyburn on sale for seventeen dollars, so I got that instead. Before last night, my only experience with scotch was a brand called Scoresby. Boy, what a difference. Scorseby had tasted something like marshmallow piss, but the Speyburn was like heaven. I had a glass before dinner, which of course expedited my transition to clumsiness mode. I propped up my insides with a burrito and a quesadilla then had two more glasses of scotch and watched Futurama. Then I went back to my room and decided the responsible thing to do would be to finish my bottle of Wild Turkey, as I ought to've done that before I started on the scotch. It's not quite as bad as it sounds--I only had about one glass of Wild Turkey left. I drank it while watching two episodes of Cowboy Bebop, "Waltz for Venus" and "Jamming with Edward". Cowboy Bebop is a good show, but with alcohol, it's a great show.

Then I got to thinking about how good the scotch was, so I had four glasses of that and I started swirling around in my seat while watching Smiths and Joy Division videos on YouTube. Then I watched some Bill Murray and Sarah Silverman videos to shake off some gloom. I also found a bunch of Second City videos--this is great:

I also noticed that video of Sally Fields getting censored at the Emmys is really popular. Which I sort of love--if FOX hadn't been blockheaded enough to censor "god damn", which isn't even on the official list of naughty words anymore, no one would have heard about it. It would have just been another anti-war actor talking about being anti-war, and not even with any special eloquence (". . . if mothers ruled the world, there would be no god damn wars." I guess that explains Margaret Thatcher's famous pacifism).

I slept like the dead and woke up feeling really interesting. I think I'm actually going to go try and write, though. I had some new ideas yesterday . . .

Monday, September 17, 2007

The short story I wrote recently is on my website now, here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Now that Eastern Promises seems to be on top of the world, I keep seeing people referring to Cronenberg as a director previously best known for his horror movies of the 70s. Am I crazy, or were Scanners, Videodrome, and The Fly, all movies from the 80s, actually Cronenberg's best known films?

In any case, I'm dying to see Eastern Promises. It sounds like History of Violence, only better. Cronenberg seems to have a real knack for violent gangster pictures. I just hope he hasn't completely abandoned movies about people with alien perversions and bizarre, malevolent physical maladies.

Elsewhere in Viggo Mortensen news, did everyone catch Aragorn on The Colbert Report*? I want a Narsil.

*It's nice to see Comedy Central has a slightly more sensible way to view videos now. It was annoying when Viacom got huffy about YouTube and then forced us to wade through that stupid Motherlode bog.
My eyes are remarkably sticky this morning. I went to bed with one of those incredibly bad headaches I'm still hesitant to call a migraine. It seems to mostly be gone now, but I wasn't able to sleep later than 9:30am, for no apparent reason. I get this weird feeling the headaches come from excessive bread consumption.

Yesterday wasn't productive. At the end of it, I went to Tim's house and played Oblivion for a couple hours and then came back here and watched Laura (1944). Again.

Hmm. Yep. Nothing else to say . . .

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The new maids just didn't show up to-day. Unfortunately, I only found this out after I'd been out all day. But it wasn't so bad, really, because I had a good experience out there in the world. After a breakfast of spanakopita at UTC, I drove up to Plaza Camino Real which has my favourite coffee shop for writing. The place is never crowded--I don't know how it's stayed in business so many years.

More than at any other point in working on this new short story so far, I got really caught up in writing. The world just dissolved away and it was just me and the protagonist's POV. I hope this nice, familiar feeling doesn't mean I've only been writing poorly, since I'm still not happy with how my old stuff reads.

It's weird how coffee shops and restaurants actually have fewer distractions than here, at the computer. I could have gone on for hours more than I did if the place had had better air conditioning and I hadn't started sweating on the page. But as it is, I wouldn't be surprised if this story's done within the next couple of days. I'll then edit it a bit and maybe do one illustration . . . You know, even if it ends up that this story completely blows, I think I really need to be writing right now, so at least I can be sure I'm doing one useful thing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's 81 degrees to-day, no clouds, and I saw a dame on the corner wearing a sweater. How do people live like that?

Yesterday I saw the Christian Bale movie I'd have preferred to see on Sunday, Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn. It's based on the true story of Dieter Dengler, an American Navy pilot who was a POW early in the Viet Nam war. He actually managed to escape imprisonment, one of the few men in the history of modern warfare to do so, and the filmmakers show that this had not a little to do with what a remarkable person Dengler was. When the other prisoners are understandably cowed by the impossibility of their situation, Dengler exhibits a bizarrely fearless perspective and a basic respect for humanity, even the humanity of his captors.

Dengler was born in Germany, and as he tells his fellow POW, Duane, about seeing an American pilot bomb his home when he was a child, and deciding then and there he wanted to be a pilot, Duane tells him he's a strange bird; "Someone tries to kill you and you want his job." The ever-thoroughly committed Christian Bale is dragged by his ankles, tied by a rope to a running bull, then hung upside down with an ants nest tied to his face, and is finally placed in a slender concrete well, his face just above the waterline, and after all this, Dengler tells his fellow captives that he wishes there wasn't a war because one of the female guards smiled at him.

Strapped on his back with his limbs splayed for days, the most devastated reaction he has is, "What's the matter with you people? I told you I had to go to the bathroom and now I've shit myself."

The extraordinary nature of these episodes is heightened by the fact that this is the most technically flawless movie I've seen in a long time. Real locations were used whenever possible. There was no attempt to Mickey Mouse the dialogue, and I was enormously pleased that the actors portrayed even the subtler mannerisms of Americans in the 1960s. The special effects were flawless, but never overdone. There's no slow motion, pulse pounding attention given to the plane crash, just the abruptness and harshness of the experience, and the surreality of finding oneself in a strange country and an alien landscape after having been in the familiarity of a sealed cockpit.

The score is eerie and beautiful strings, and footage of the Thai jungle-scape is beautiful even as it's oppressive as Dengler struggles, tiredly hacking at an infinite sea of green vines.

A simple honesty pervades Herzog's technique. Extraordinary things just happen, Dengler just does amazing things, and the movie just is amazing.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sleepy so far to-day. I finished reading The Silmarillion last night, which was nice. I had a couple glasses of Wild Turkey and then read from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It's weird how much I can appreciate Lewis Carroll even though I had to set aside Catch-22, which some might argue is in a similar vein. I don't get myself sometimes. The Alice books just feel fuller to me. Maybe I'd enjoy Catch-22 as an audio book read by Stephen Colbert.

I was reading from The Annotated Alice, which is just a lovely item to look at, for one thing, and the insights it provides truly enhance the experience. As in the chapter I was reading last night, "Who Stole the Tarts?", where the White Rabbit reads from a scroll;

"The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts,
All on a summer's day:
The Knave of Hearts, he stole the tarts
And took them quite away!"

And from there the King tells the jury to consider their verdict. From a footnote we learn "the White Rabbit reads only the first lines of a four-stanza poem that originally appeared in The European Magazine (April 1782)."

Suddenly the joke works a lot better.

Anyway, once again, I love naked ballerinas. Here's an art form meant to accentuate the beauty of the human body and it seems it can only be taken to its next natural level in the world of porn . . .

Sunday, September 09, 2007

No writing to-day. Gee, I sound like Caitlin. Which makes my neurotic head wonder if in attempting to write prose fiction I'm just imitating my friends at a moment in my life where my self esteem is at a low point. Like the Aimee Mann song goes; "that's how I nearly fell, trading clothes and ringing Pavlov's Bell."

But I didn't get much done because I was out with family to-day for a parent's birthday seeing the new 3:10 to Yuma, from which I learned;

1) Large sums of money ought to be transported in a coach without escort but with a giant, expensive gun that's difficult to aim.

2) Director James Mangold (also of Walk the Line) is technically proficient but has little or no human emotion and is incapable of creating any kind of energy with compositions of framing, blocking, editing, or lighting. He might as well have let the second unit director take the reins.

3) Even working for a director who could learn a thing or two from Commander Data about human emotion, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Peter Fonda, and Alan Tudyk are awesome.

4) James Mangold apparently hated how things went with Wash in Serenity and here there's a scene Mangold must have found more satisfying for his dumb, programmed heart; "*gasp* *dying* Did-did we get away?" "We did, thanks to you!" "*Smiles**Dies like a pickled leaf in the wind*."

5) If you're transporting a bloodthirsty criminal, never bind his feet, and don't gag him when his men are surrounding your hotel and you only have five comrades.

6) Also, refrain from shooting at those men from cover even though they outnumber you and are intent on killing you.

7) If the bloodthirsty outlaw you're transporting in custody shoots an Apache who was shooting at you, he's obviously your friend and you shouldn't keep a gun pointed at him.

8) However badass and interesting Peter Fonda's established as being, he can still be killed quickly and easily because he does ridiculously amateurish things sometimes.

9) If you have an annoying, naive, fourteen year-old son who constantly wants to get in the way, let him, because he'll invariably save your ass.

10) You can be a pansy that everyone thinks is badass if you're played by Christian Bale.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Know how Barnes & Nobles and Borders always have miniature coffee shops inside? Last night I dreamt there was a tiny Barnes & Noble inside a Borders.

The story's now at 2,165 words. I wrote the best part so far yesterday, and when I woke up this morning, I kind of already knew three things I want to write over the course of the story. I think it basically finished itself, by itself, in my head. Hopefully my typing fingers can do as well.

Friday, September 07, 2007

One of the nice things about Veronica Mars was that it was filmed in San Diego and often locations were used that I could visit myself. Several episodes featured a diner with metal walls, porthole-like windows, and a sign that read "24 hours". I'm always looking for 24 hour places, so I was keen on checking this place out, and last night I finally did. My sister and I ate at Studio Diner--I had scrambled eggs, hash browns, and sourdough toast. The hash browns, in particular, were much better than Denny's, though I guess that's not so hard.

My sister and I also stopped at Mitsuwa, which wasn't far away, and I bought a big bottle of sake that came with a tokkuri (bottle) and two choko (little cups). I heated the tokkuri after washing the things and enjoyed some hot sake last night. Delicious.

Still working on the short story. It stands at 1,410 now, and the scope of the thing feels like it'll probably end up being between 6,000 and 7,000 words. Back when I was writing prose fiction regularly, I don't think I ever went as slowly as I seem to be going on this thing. An effect of time, I guess, though I don't know if it's because I'm out of practice or because I've gotten more thoughtful. I guess it wouldn't make any difference to the aliens from the Andromeda galaxy . . .

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Had some trouble sleeping last night. My brain got locked up again in a circular train of thought. I tried a lot of different things, even counting sheep, which actually worked pretty well for me when I was a kid. It didn't seem to help last night--I tried to picture the sheep as clearly as possible, from the slight aura of brown dirt on their wool to their leathery eyelids over black eyes. But I couldn't stop giving them simple cartoon legs.

I swear Victoria the cat helped me eventually get to sleep at around 8am. She was sleeping in my closet, and all of a sudden I had this extremely clear vision of a number of mice scrabbling about one another; I saw tiny pink legs struggling for purchase on the small white fur backs of other mice, pink tails whipping about. And the whole vision was upside down, like a reflection on a camera lens. I honestly think Victoria lent me her dream when she saw my brain couldn't come up with one. I slept until noon.

No maids to-day. It's a different sort of Thursday--the new maids only come once a fortnight. It was weird firing Margo, the old maid, who'd been the maid here and at my parents' house when I lived there. She'd been cleaning my room for maybe a decade, and she never did a very good job. No amount of years could teach her to put things back where she found them, or to treat delicate items carefully. I had to hide things from her. But I guess when you've known someone for so long, firing them is bound to be awkward. Which is probably why the duty was foisted on me.

I wrote another six hundred words on that short story yesterday. I'm still not exactly sure how I'm doing, but I'll keep at it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

This is just silly. What's Bill Murray going to damage driving a flimsy vehicle at fifteen miles an hour? Sounds like bored cops.

I watched a lot of Hope Sandoval videos last night;

Another wonderful day. Why does my coffee get cold so fast?

Well, I started writing a short story yesterday. Remember I said I was going to try prose fiction a week ago? I only wrote 499 words yesterday. Well, that's the score now but actually I snipped a couple of paragraphs and changed it from first person to third person. Maybe fiddling so much with five hundred some words is a bad sign.

I've had no confidence in my ability to write prose since I decided I hated the novel I spent four years writing. And I also hated the novel I wrote before it, the six novellas, and however many short stories I've written. But I really enjoyed doing the impromptu Lord of the Rings fanfic with Caitlin and people seemed to like it. I'm not sure how much that had to do with me or with Caitlin and the novelty of the thing. But I remember how nice it felt to be able to tell a story without having to draw anything. I figured another crack at prose was reasonable. I'll post it on my web site when I'm done.

Keith Olbermann did another one of his Special Comments yesterday;

These are always amazing. Presented with passion, the best thing about them is that they are actually quite well written. It's startling to hear them in the otherwise mostly grey soup of television. And in the increasingly grey soup of the attitudes people have about politics. As this administration goes from bad to worse and worse and worse, people who were angry before just get tired and don't want to hear about it. Olbermann seems to be one of the few embers of the bonfire the world needs and probably won't get. But he rouses you. And he actually made me feel better about an unrelated thing I was feeling hopeless and shitty about. I think emotional honesty and good communication universally elevate things.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

No, yesterday wasn't productive. Okay, I pencilled a page and got halfway through inking it before the all the silly black lines started seeming meaningless and I had to get out of the house. I woke up in a rotten mood, the kind I can normally only dispel by working really hard on something. Didn't work this time. Maybe it's just the whiplash of coming out of a really happy and exciting chapter of life. I don't know.

I drove around a few hours. At night, I watched half of Notorious, because watching Ingrid Bergman helps and there's no movie where she looks better. To-day, I don't think I'll draw, I think I'll try something different.

Oh, by the way, here's a helpful reminder about life;

Monday, September 03, 2007

Last night I dreamt that I was borrowing my parents' black SUV and I was travelling north on a strange freeway to meet them for dinner. All the cars stopped at one point so I stopped, too. People were getting out of their cars, putting down blankets and tying rags around their heads as though they were trying to have impromptu picnics while they were being forced to wait. I got out of the SUV and walked for a little ways before I came to a massive pile of personal belongings, like something out of a Holocaust movie. I found my leather jacket and my bag, two items I'd left in the SUV. My cell phone and iPod were missing. I rushed back to where I'd left the SUV to find that it was gone.

There were several cops roaming the aisles between the piles of personal items and I approached one with dyed black hair and orange-tan skin.

"What happened to my car?" I asked, not pleasantly.

He didn't seem enthusiastic about helping me; "Sir, what would you like me to do?"

"I want you to do your job, that's what!"

Then a female police officer in shorts walked past saying, "Oh, help the guy out. You really ought to be more useful."

"Can you help me find my car?" I asked her.

"Er, no, sorry, I have to go." And she disappeared through a magic door in a concrete wall.

Before sleep, I watched some of the deleted scenes from INLAND EMPIRE, the segment called "MORE THINGS THAT HAPPENED," which seemed an apt title. The idea of deleted scenes on a David Lynch DVD was strange enough, so I probably ought to have expected that they'd be edited together like a whole other film. There were at least two scenes that were as good as anything in the finished film. I was able to appreciate even better what an incredible, thoroughly natural actress Laura Dern is. There were more extended, uncut takes of her delivering dialogue, and it seemed like she could take any amount of strange words from Lynch and make them into credible expressions from a full character. Also nice was a very long conversation between the "Lost Girl" and the Polish phantom about magic watches.

A long scene of Laura Dern writhing on the floor while she talked on the phone to a cold, disinterested rabbit she was obviously in love with was kind of painful and made me wonder again about David Lynch's love life. There's a scene near the end of "MORE THINGS THAT HAPPENED" of the prostitutes hanging out on the street while Lynch is singing, "Strange what love does . . . when you're all alone . . ." More than the film itself, "MORE THINGS THAT HAPPENED" seems to be about being in love with someone you can't reach.

And I've still more special features to watch. This is easily the most worthwhile DVD I've purchased this year.

Here's all I managed to get done on Sunday. I'm pretty sure the third one's a self portrait. Here's hoping Monday's more productive . . .

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Looking to-day at the Wikipedia entry for Jack Kerouac, I see there's supposed to be a newly uncensored version of On the Road published this year. I think I'm definitely going to have to read that, though I think my favourite Kerouac book would probably either be Visions of Cody or The Subterraneans. I miss reading Kerouac.

I was going to draw all day yesterday or something, but then I remembered I'd talked to Tim about going to Horton plaza with him that day so he could buy a nice vinyl statue of Noriko from Top o Nerae. We ate at Pokez and later he was nice enough to give me one of his old computer monitors. It's a big flat screen LCD--I don't know exactly how big, but this wallpaper looks great on it;

I've decided to-day shall be a day of strange contemplation . . .

Saturday, September 01, 2007

It's been hot and cloudless around here lately and yesterday we had a sudden, hot thunderstorm. I went out for coffee and saw lightning in the distance, even as the sun was shining directly in my eyes. There was just an egg yolk of dirty grey cloud in the middle of the sky and it rained hot bullets of water on me when I got of my car and walked to the Starbucks. I was made glad again for my waterproof hat. At least my car got clean--it looked less like a dusty vampire bat and more like a seal, except for the big grey splotch on the roof where the paint seems to have retreated. I needed William H. Macy to try to sell me some TrueCoat or something . . .

I watched the new episode of Bill Maher last night and John Mellencamp was on. I'm seriously starting to think that guy's mentally impaired. For some reason he's decided to visit all these political shows and every time I see him he says something completely bone-headed. Last night, when Maher asked him why people in the heartland bought into the right wing facade, like Fred Thompson's red pickup truck, Mellencamp said, well, these people believe what you tell them. And he added, "There's nothing wrong with being naïve."

Maher was appropriately aghast; "Naïve is what got us into this mess!" But why is this even a discussion? It was perhaps the biggest waste of airtime I've seen on either of Bill Maher's shows. I think it's well past time we admit that a bunch of Americans are as dumb as dirt.

A lot of things irritating me to-day. I'm just going to concentrate on drawing now and try to keep them out of my mind . . .